POL101Y1 Lecture Notes - German Idealism, Class Consciousness, Feudalism
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Oct 1 Lecture
THE RISE OF THE WEST AND MARXISM
- British got rich off at theft
- Northwest part of Europe featured enormous changes
- Twin “Revolutions” 16th-19th Centuries, agricultural and industrial
- Agricultural Revolution: may be hyperbole to use the “word revolution” here.
originates in the 18th century England
more approximately designated as a revolution
ex: raw cotton processed in British factories
1760: 2.5 million pounds
1787: 22 million pounds
1837: 366 million pounds… a 16 fold in increase in fifty years
amount of iron processed into steel in English factories
1788: 68,000 tons
1806: 250,000 tons
1830: 678,000 tons
A tenfold increase in a fifty year period- produced gigantic changes
Household utensils, matches, beer/wine (luxury items)
Luxuries came to be seen and mere “decencies” and decencies came be seen
Distribution highly uneven but now creation of middle class that had risen
from manual labor to professional r entrepreneurial status
Industrial Revolution: Social Results
(1) Capacity to produce surplus
(2) Increasing complexity of division of labor
(3) New forms of social consciousness
*How are we to understand this? What are its consequences?
Demise of Royal Absolutism
Victory of Parliament over Kings
Selection of leaders by election
Rise of political parties
Universal rights without reference to class
Need to accommodate new groups within politics
deeply educated, highly sarcastic
How to analyze a society?
What does one look for first?
Queens and Kings?
What kind of foot they eat, alcohol they drink?
Marx and Materialism
Feuerbach and Critique of German idealism (Hegel).
Materialism: What is God?
- taking everything that’s good inside of us and putting it outside of
ourselves; God did not create man, man created God (his view)
But Marx: this doesn’t go far enough (the point is to change the world)
Why do we need religion? Injustice. You must go to the material causes.
Critique of Hegel: Historical Materialism
Hegel: Consciousness creates society
Marx disagrees: consciousness does not create being, “being creates
consciousness” (how you live determines how you think)
Materialist conception of history
Materialist Conception of History
Humans make their own means of survival
Work is natural, humans are creative
History is history of class struggles and forms of domination: history is
struggle, but material struggle
Culture, ideas, art, law, morality, religion… all determined by mode of
Critique of Hegel: Historical Materialism
Slave, Feudal, Capitalist, Socialist/ Communist Modes of production
“Revolutions are the locomotives of history”
History moves from one stage to the next: like Hegel it has meaning,
movement, and an END!
How does History unfold
Exploitation (how much they pay vs how much you receive, ex: mcd’s worker
receiving half of what managers are making off of given amount of hours)
New classes grab power for their particular interest but claim it is in the
They create an ideology and exercise state power. The state is nothing more
than executive committee of ruling class.
But they, too, exploit labor and eventually their power is brought into
When does history end?
If history is history of class struggle it can only end.. when class struggle
When does this come about?
Marx’s analysis of social orders: feudalism to capitalism and then his analysis
Immiseration and class consciousness
Story of Capitalism
Feudal society: two classes. Nobles and peasantry
Rise of new classes (bourgeoisie/capitalists) and industrial/urban
Bourgeoisie seizes power in name of all but exploits proletariat/ working
Will be displaced by those it exploits: revolution
creates unprecedented wealth
but it warps human relations and culture
Capitalist exploitation is at once the most subtle and the most extreme
But workers (the Proletariat) will redeem history: no exploitation and truth
rather than ideology
Mark: History and Politics
Liberal democracy is presented to us as in the interest of all but actually in
the interest of the ruling class. Formal freedoms versus substantive reality
(how can you exercise your freedoms if you are poor?)
Its really about capitalism: Marx is a student of capitalism
For right are an illusion, ideology is a mask for power. You cant see because
you are in it. (Film: the Matrix)
What does Marx mean by communism? Is it utopian and unrealistic?